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Book DetailsISBN: 9780099526155
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Book Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Philip Gabriel - Reviewed by Boomert (13 Jan 2010)
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami, London: Harvill Secker, 2008)
“Life (and running) is not all about time but about our experiences along the way” (Jen Rhines).
Haruki Murakami started to run in 1982 to get fit. He quit smoking, and sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing novels. This little gem of a book, with its marvellous cover design and art work, is a reflection on the influence that running has had on his life, on his career as writer, and what running has meant to him as a person. This is not only a book about running, although that is the frame through which Murakami writes, but is also a travelogue and memoir and provides a fascinating insight into one of Japan’s most popular contemporary writers.
In the Foreword to the book, Murakami tells of the birth of What I Talk About…. It is a work that was ten years in the making, providing a record of his honest thoughts, insights and musings on running and writing and can best be described as “a kind of memoir centered on the act of running”. It’s an anecdotal book, written with charm, warmth, and honesty, providing a different kind of work to previous novels (of which there are over 12) such as Kafka on the Shore. Murakami’s first novel was published in Japan in 1979, and it has taken almost twenty years for his popularity to extent to the Western Hemisphere. The translation from Japanese to English adds to the sense of intimacy, as the translation is occasionally, perhaps subconsciously, blunt.
The book begins in the summer of August 2005, and covers Murakami’s preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon, the Murakami City (a humorous coincidence) Triathlon, his time spent in Hawaii and Cambridge, and his regular runs along the Charles River in Boston and ends in the fall of 2006. The majority of Murakami’s writing for this book was done between work for his (numerous) other novels. Telling of the writing process, Murkami says ‘Each time I wrote more I’d ask myself, So – what’s on my mind right now?’. Running for a quarter of a century as Murakami has certainly makes for a lot of memories.
Some day, if I have a gravestone and I’m able to pick out what’s carved on it, I’d like it to say this: Haruki Murakami 1949-20** Writer (and Runners) At Least He Never Walked
Find out more about this fascinating author:
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